This is kind of an amazing video. Cremin is famous for writing one of the definitive histories of education in the United States as well as for his book specifically on the history of Progressive Education in the United States. If you are looking for someone with the long view, this is your guy. He died about a year after this aired, and it’s pretty fortunate this was captured.
It gets started in earnest at about 10 mins in.
It’s really incredible, I think, how the points he tries to emphasize (as well as the points that the other guest, Mara Mayor, tries to emphasize) are exactly the lessons that tend to get lost when we talk about technology. New technology tends to complement the use of old technology, not replace it. Lack of training and time to train for teachers is the part of technology adoption that tends to bottleneck the process. Technology well used can help traditional teachers focus on the most rewarding elements of teaching. The biggest enemy of technological impact is failure to be sufficiently imaginative in its use and design.
What I think is maybe even more interesting is Cremin and Mayor pointing out the many successes of technology in education. We often tend to look at the history of technology in education as a sequence of failures and false starts on our way toward the One Solution That Will Finally Work. But a lot of the time the failure is simply one of insufficient public resources applied to successful models. In places where funding has been significant and long-term (as in the case of Sesame Street) the impact of educational technology has often been phenomenal.
Of course, the second thing that is amusing about this is if you replaced the word “video” with “MOOC” you’d get a much more insightful conversation about MOOCs than you are currently seeing most places currently.
But start about 10 minutes in, and watch it until the end (20 minutes of your time). I think it’s well worth the historical perspective it provides.